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News: Designer beds for charity, pre-term birth breakthrough and more …

The Block judge Shaynna Blaze with her unique Sealy bed design to be auctioned for Pink RIbbonSo what is making news in the parenting world this week?

Why are some of the judges from The Block Glasshouse designing their own beds? Which second languages will be taught in preschools around the country? What have researchers discovered about pre-term membrane rupture that they believe has the potential to save many lives worldwide? And what new service is helping WA children with severe hearing loss and their families.

Read on to find out more …

Designers in bed with cancer charity

After all the excitement of The Block Glasshouse, judges Darren Palmer and Shaynna Blaze probably need a good lie down!

Luckily the two have just created their own bespoke designer bed.

Darren and Shaynna are among six leading designers, artists and personalities who’ve donated their time to create the limited edition beds – which will be auctioned to raise funds for Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon.

The six unique designs from Darren, Shaynna, Reg Mombassa, Akira Isogawa, Henry Roth and Poncho Army, adorn a premium Sealy Posturepedic bed.

Money raised by the Sealy Posturepedic and Cancer Council Australia initiative will go towards vital cancer research, prevention programs and support services to help Aussie women affected by breast or gynaecological cancers.

The auction runs from October 17-27. Visit

Preschool language trial sets tongues wagging

Forty preschool services will be part of a $9.8 million Federal Government trial, which will introduce preschoolers to a second language through play-based apps in 2015.

Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley says interest in the trial was “huge” and showed that early childhood services and educators saw the potential developmental and social benefits of increasing a child’s exposure to a second language at an early age.

“We announced this policy because we see the potential benefits introducing a second language to youngsters has for the future of our children, economy and, ultimately, our nation” Ms Ley says..

Languages for the trial are Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Indonesian, Arabic and French.

Scientists investigate ways to repair amniotic membrane

Scientists have identified what they believe could be a cause of pre-term premature rupture of the fetal membrane, which accounts for 40 per cent of pre-term births, and is the main reason for infant death world-wide.

The researchers, from Queen Mary University of London and University College London, whose work was funded by the charity Wellbeing of Women, used bioengineering techniques to test the effect of repetitive stretch on tissues of the amniotic membrane.

They found that stretching of the membrane leads to the overproduction of prostaglandin E2 which is damaging to both the cells, and mechanical structure, of the tissue.

This overproduction activates the stretch-sensitive protein connexin 43 (Cx43) and reduces the mechanical properties of the membrane, potentially leading to rupture and pre-term birth.

The research, published by the journal Placenta, is the first to investigate the role of Cx43 in causing pre-term premature rupture of the fetal membrane.

The team is now researching possible treatments that would allow the amniotic membrane to be repaired.

Dr Anna David, a consultant in obstetrics and pre-term birth from the UCL Institute for Women’s Health and a co-author of the paper, says the findings have provided a new understanding of why pregnant women who have pre-term contractions go on to rupture their membranes early.

“The new project funded by the Rosetrees Trust could lead to a therapy that will heal the amniotic membrane and reduce preterm births,” she says.

“This has the potential to save many lives worldwide and improve the health and well-being of women during pregnancy and their families after birth.”

New hearing implant program for WA kids

A new hearing implant program has been launched to help newborn babies, children and teenagers with severe hearing loss in WA.

The EnginEars program offers a broad range of hearing implant options as well as a comprehensive suite of related services under the one roof – to help with language, cognitive, social, emotional and physical development.

The program is funded by a Social Enterprise fund grant of $286,000 from the WA State Government to the Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA).

The ESIA Hearing Implant centre manager, audiologist Gemma Upson says the program is not just about the children, but the whole family.

“We are proud that the EnginEars program provides holistic support for families throughout the process of diagnosis through to treatment and ongoing care.”

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